Placemaking, We've Got this Miami

August 1, 2017

Melissa Hege, AICP of South Florida-based Melissa Hege City Planning LLC. highlights the power of placemaking.

Brickell City Center, Miami

The wow factor here is more refined and sophisticated. Brickell City Center is a spectacular construct of high end shopping in a sublime expression of architecture. Simply said this place is gorgeous.

The views, the building material and the attention to detail is so remarkable. The ambiance here is deliberate and created from new construction. But, like the farmer's markets and the graffiti art,  Brickell City Center's architecture is innovative, bold and very cool. A ten.

Hudson River Park, New York

This 4-mile park runs along the western edge of Manhattan and along the Hudson River. It has a lot of different playgrounds and parks, a putting green and a paddle board center. But I love this peaceful seating area. It's the space in between the bigger parks, but, to me, it's just as enchanting. I think it's the simplicity of the materials--gray wooden planks, bright blue plastic chairs and green trees. The separation of the space with a stepped platform makes the space feel cozy and private. Imagine, privacy outdoors in Manhattan!

But the heart of this park is the linear bike path which is separated from traffic with a wide sidewalk and metal fence and softened with some terrific greenery. Amateurs and professionals are all welcome.

And no waterfront park is complete without the floating bar barge. A nice place to catch the sunset after work. It's cool without being pretentious. I think we could definitely pull something like this off in Miami.

Building as Backdrop for your Big Idea, Great Barrington

This is an old bank building that was converted into a cheese shop of all things. This summer, on a Friday, the front patio (shown here) was used as market for fresh produce. They popped up two or three large foldable tables, covered them with burlap and boxes to display the most beautiful assortment of veggies complete with leafy tops and exposed roots. That's right I DID NOT get the photo that day. The point is, great places can happen anywhere and they can be temporary, like this farmer's market.

Little Havana, Miami

Last example. Little Havana is a special place which has evolved and modernized in a very cool way. It started with the Tower theatre and Domino Park.

Domino Park was extended to create this larger plaza. It's used for monthly friday neighborhood events- Viernes Culturales--which has become an institution. Ahh placemaking...

Even McDonalds caught onto the brand of Little Havana and Domino Park. Isn't this great?

Azucar Ice Cream

But here is the best example. From the old Cuban neighborhood came a fresh and inventive shop which, in my book, is just as incredible as the cute neighborhoods that started off this blog. Across from the Tower Theater, this small ice cream shop has become a local favorite. The psychedelic ice cream cone popping off the building is as amazing as the ice cream inside the shop.

There are lots more great examples of placemaking in Miami, but I wanted to end with this photo...a mural of Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente which says: "Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't then you are wasting your time on earth." Places are special because people make them special.

Article originally posted by Melissa Hege, AICP at Feature image: Miami Beach.

Melissa Hege, AICP, LEED AP, practices planning and urban design in one of the Country’s most envied and envious iconic cities—the Republic of Miami. For more than a decade, she has enjoyed the juxtaposition of the region’s beauty and dysfunction, and continues to learn from it daily. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Brandeis University, her portfolio includes award winning plans which translate design based solutions into practical applications.

In her current practice, Melissa Hege City Planning, she straddles the roles of planner and community advocate by exploring infrastructure investments which add exponential value to cities. These include waterfront parks, bicycle and pedestrian trails, and complete streets—streets which have comfortable and protected zones for bicycles, pedestrians, cars, and transit. She is currently developing a waterfront pop-up installation on Miami’s Biscayne Bay to demonstrate the potential value of a permanently improved and connected waterfront trail in downtown Miami. Other recent projects include an interactive web based tool to visually track all multi-agency infrastructure improvements in downtown Miami and a Complete Streets forum for local municipalities in partnership with Miami Dade County.

Melissa is a board member of the Miami Modern (MIMO) Biscayne Boulevard Association, a 501c3 dedicated to preserving its architectural history and expanding commercial opportunities for this US-1 corridor. She is Past Chair of the Miami Section of the Florida American Planning Association, was Co-chair for the State’s annual conference and served on Miami-Dade County’s Transportation Aesthetic Review Committee. She has been published in the Miami Herald, Florida Planning, Planetizen and Panorama (University of Pennsylvania) and taught as an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University. She developed a planning curriculum for middle school students at the Cushman School and is a regular speaker at the Florida American Planning Association’s annual conference.

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